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Your trade show display costs

Date Added: Dec 14, 2012
Author: Miguel Torres
Category: Business: Business Services: Event Planning and Production: Convention and Trade Show Services

    In a down economy, the need to cut costs across the board is felt everywhere. Unfortunately, trade show attendance is often among the first areas to take the hit. Despite this, many savvy business owners and industry leaders are still setting up booths at industry events, to maintain key networking opportunities…and a strong foothold in the game.

    The trick to making it work for you is in the smart, strategic decisions you make to ensure your trade show display doesn’t leave you in the red.Following is a rundown of some areas to focus on.

    Marketing and PrepWork

    Probably the most important thing to highlight is keeping exceptional track of where every penny is going, why it’s necessary to spend it, etc. While it seems obvious, taking the time to break everything down in a spreadsheet to cover marketing costs, booth set-up, promo items and even your time spent handling each is a significant part of starting the process, especially if you’re new to it.

    A less familiar cost cutter is not attending every event in your industry or area each year. Be shrewd about which ones you choose and factor in the cost of each, also taking opportunities for networking and estimated exposure into account. Save on the cost of getting there by being equally thrifty when deciding how many (and who) will attend, and then find the best methods of travel and accommodation, opting for a competitive group rate.

    Marketing, before and during the event, is an area that really lets you get creative while saving. Aim for a multi-prong approach that maximizes your reachat a low cost, such as social media, while also keeping your brand message and goals intact. Go with cost-efficient signage with your trade show display. Banners, smaller signs and pop-up displays are just as effective as large, intricate signs but are easier on the bottom line.

    Your Trade Show Display Design

    Believe it or not, setting up trade show displays can be a frugal (and very creative) endeavor. For starters, you can rent instead of buying or building your own, which saves construction costs and is a good idea if you only attend a couple events a year. If your circumstances and attendance favor buying your display, choosing lightweight, portable or modular displays is a good alternative to a full-on build and is a great place to save, while getting “that look.”

    Re-designing your current booth is easier than you may think and can also significantly reduce your set-up costs. Or you could go with a smaller display altogether and organize to make the space work for your needs. Getting creative can be a fun and thrifty way of setting up a unique, memorable display. Just be sure to use effects and a design that makes sense for your brand strategy to get the most out of your efforts.

    Save on Promo Items

    When you’re trying to make a trade show work on a shoestring,promotional merchandise is an area that could make or break your budget. If you decide that they’re a necessary component, stick with smaller, low-cost items that are actually functional (pens, flash drives, magnets, mouse pads, etc.) and are relevant to your brand, such as sweatbands or water bottles for the fitness/sports industry and eye masks or grooming kits for the beauty industry.You can further your promo investment by limiting them to thank-yougifts to those who visit your booth.

    If your target customer group places more value on a higher end promo item, such as sports bags or branded apparel, it’s a good strategy to offer those items, but buy fewer of them and distribute them wisely by making raffle or contest prizes of them. That way, you cut costs while maintaining your value with customers.

    Paper collateral, such as brochures and handouts, has high potential for wastefulness, often not being read and making a mess of the trade show floor. Unless you see them as an absolute necessity for your business, it’s safe to check this off your list of things to have. If you must distribute info, try doing so with disks or flash drives instead.

    Track Your Success and Ensuring Your ROI

    One of the best ways to calculate the success of a trade show lies in the follow-up process. This is an aspect that is often ignored…but it doesn’t have to be. Make those hard-won leads work for you by devising a system for putting them to use as quickly as possible. Leave a staff member in charge of collecting the leads during the event (especially the hot ones) with instructions to send thank-you emails, letters or faxes as a reminder that you are interested in doing business with thembefore the “honeymoon period” wears off.

    How does this affect ROI, you ask? By allowing you to track the response to your follow-up interaction, whether that means sales, referrals leading to sales or other worthy measurable. You can also calculate ROI by dividing your overall cost by the number of leads produced and cost-per-sale by dividing overall cost by number of sales.

    With the main point of trade shows being the networking aspect it offers, it only makes sense to balance your budget with your needs and potential results. Trade shows are important for boosting business in the best of times but, when you plan ahead wisely, you can achieve the same results in the worst of times as well.

    About Skyline Chicago

    Skyline Chicago is part of the global Skyline Exhibits network that includes more than 1,500 employees worldwide. Skyline Chicago is a leading provider of custom Chicago trade show displays and portable Chicago trade show display. Founded in 1980, Skyline Exhibits is the source for unforgettable face-to-face marketing experiences. The company holds more than 100 patents and has been repeatedly recognized for its creativity, innovation and performance.

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